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Weekly Update from the Field December 7, 2006
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* Update from the Field
* BFC Newsletter Delivered - NPS Contact Correction
* Colorado Ski Vacation to Benefit Buffalo Field Campaign
* Article: Cowboy Mentality Dominates Buffalo Slaughter
* Last Words

* Update from the Field
Dear Buffalo Friends,
We are pleased to report that no buffalo have been killed or harassed this week.
A few buffalo "hunters" have been in town, scouting the landscape, not finding any animals to kill. There are four bulls in a Buffalo Safe Zone who have been seemingly quite content to stay in a neighborhood where they are welcome and gunners are not. No other buffalo are out of the park now, neither here on the West side, nor up North near Gardiner. As long as the weather holds, the buffalo will take their time with their migration and, consequently, avoid the bullets at the boundary. Though no one should have to cringe because a wild buffalo migrates over an imaginary man-made line, we can't help but hope they will be content to remain in relative safety.

Whenever we catch ourselves wishing that buffalo would stay within park boundaries just so they are not harmed, immediately, we kick ourselves; that is not fair to the buffalo. They are nomadic and they must roam. Confinement equals death. Confinement is what the cattle lords want for the buffalo. So long as Yellowstone boxes them in, so long as they are shot, harassed, slaughtered or quarantined for stepping into Montana, there is no freedom or peace for them and they remain ecologically extinct in Montana and everywhere else outside of Yellowstone. Wild buffalo have endured centuries of slaughter and still they press on. Sometimes walking right to their deaths, in the name of freedom they press on. Live free or die. Their persistence and endurance must inspire all of us to fight for the buffalo's right to live free.

Last week, we shared with you information about hunters being allowed to construct temporary roads on national forest lands to make it easy to access their prey. After careful research, we have since learned that this activity is illegal. This has underscored the importance of BFC's documentation of the buffalo hunt. With a severe lack of wildlife law enforcement, BFC volunteers are the only ones monitoring the hunt and we are the eyes and the ears for the buffalo. Part of our mission is to document every action against the last wild buffalo. As difficult as it is to witness buffalo being gunned down, BFC is recording history; this canned hunt is unfolding as yet another chapter in America's shameful tradition of slaughtering wild buffalo. BFC will not let any part of the buffalo's story go untold.

While this canned hunt goes on, the DOL is clearing the Duck Creek bison trap of snow, baby Yellowstone bison are being held in a domestication torture-prison, and the Interagency Bison (mis)Management Plan still holds power with cattle interests trying to devise new ways to keep wild buffalo out of Montana.

Please continue to take action for the last wild buffalo. There are numerous things you can do including writing decision-makers and letters to the editor of print media, contacting radio and TV media, circulate and gather petition signatures, distribute post cards, show BFC video footage in your community, participate in blogs, hold rallies, conduct outreach to hunters and encourage them to demand habitat for wild buffalo, Boycott beef, forward our Updates and press releases to your friends and colleagues, distribute BFC newsletters, volunteer on the front lines with BFC, and much more. Be creative! Please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org and browse the "Act Now!" section of our web site. Share the buffalo's story with as many people as you know. Knowledge and action will set the wild buffalo free!

With the Buffalo,
* BFC Newsletters Delivered - NPS Contact Correction
If you are on our mailing list you should have received BFC's annual newsletter in your mail box by now. We hope you enjoy this issue. Please share the information with lots of people and let us know if you would like copies of the newsletter to place in your community.

We also have a correction to make. The prefix for Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis is incorrect. The phone number should read 307-344-2002. Many thanks for bringing this to our attention and for getting calls, letters, emails and faxes to Yellowstone National Park. This agency is mandated to protect the wildlife in their care, not harass or slaughter them to appease livestock interests. They must be held accountable. Don't let up the pressure! The phone number again is 307-344-2002.

If you're not on our mailing list but would like to be, or if you would like to distribute BFC newsletters in your community, please send your postal address to buffaloatwildrockies.org.

Thanks for taking action for America's last wild buffalo!
* Colorado Ski Vacation to Benefit Buffalo Field Campaign
Thanks to the generosity of a dedicated supporter, BFC has the opportunity to auction off a week-long ski vacation in Crested Butte. The winner of the Ebay auction, to be held from December 7 to the 17th, will be rewarded with week's stay in a Gold-rated, four-bedroom, three-bath condominium 500 yards from the base of the Silver Queen lift; eight free lift tickets courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort; $650 of Patagonia Ski Gear including two ski parkas and two hats; a $100 gift certificate to the Gourmet Noodle; a $33 gift certificate to the Brick Oven Pizzeria; $50 worth of food from Mountain Earth Grocery; and a 20% discount on Alpine Express shuttle service between the airport in Gunnison and Crested Butte. 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the front-lines work of Buffalo Field Campaign.

Total value of this package is more than $6,080!

Check this link later today to view the auction: http://www.missionfish.org/NPMMF/nphomepage.jsp?NP_ID=10557

Please copy and paste this portion of the update and forward it on to all your ski-loving friends!

Thanks in advance for bidding on this charity auction, and to all the individuals and businesses whose donations have made it possible.

Contact Dan at dan"at"wildrockies.org with any questions.
* Article: Cowboy Mentality Dominates Buffalo Slaughter
This is a terrific article that was printed in the Fall 2006 issue of the Western Watersheds Project's newsletter, "Watersheds Messenger." WWP's mission is to protect and restore western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives and litigation.

Learn more at http://www.westernwatersheds.org/

Cowboy Mentality Dominates Bison Slaughter
By George Wuerthner
The continuing bison slaughter by the Montana Department of Livestock outside of Yellowstone National Park is a demonstration of the "cowboy" mentality the industry uses to address any problem. Instead of using its brains, it resorts to brute force. If left unchallenged, I believe the industry's harsh tactics pose a threat to free roaming wildlife everywhere.

When you review the facts, it is difficult to believe that minimizing the threat of brucellosis is really the motivating force behind the livestock industry's actions.

Reasonable options that could address their concerns about disease transmission are ignored in favor of deadly force. This can only be explained if the brucellosis issue is a Trojan Horse hiding another motive. Whether admitted, many in the livestock industry fear the expansion of wild bison outside of parks. Such an expansion of wild free roaming bison can only come at the expense of the livestock industry. The industry, realizing this threat, is attempting to construct a Berlin Wall around our parks, destroying any animals that wander from these sanctuaries.
There are several points to keep in mind. The threat of brucellosis transmission from wild free-roaming bison is grossly exaggerated. Most bison don't even have the disease.

Secondly, even if infected with brucellosis, transmission to livestock can only occur by contact with body fluids. In other words, brucellosis can be harbored in many parts of a bison's body and still not pose a threat to livestock. Thus even if a bison tests positive for the disease, it may not pose a threat to livestock.

The only bison body fluids that pose a threat to livestock are those associated with birth or abortion. This alone means that even brucellosis infected bison wandering near cattle outside of the primary abortion or birth season don't pose a threat of infection at all. Yet this hasn't prevented agencies from killing them.

In addition, since only mature bison cows pose any threat of transmission, the killing of bison bulls makes no sense if your goal is mitigation of brucellosis transmission and only makes sense if control of bison is the ultimate goal.

Third, the brucella bacterium is extremely sensitive to things like heat, dehydration, and exposure to the environment. Even if a bison aborted a fetus it is unlikely the bacteria would remain viable (this is why the notion of wild free roaming bison not posing a threat is important). Under a laboratory situation you might be able to transmit brucellosis from bison to cattle, but that's like suggesting you could grow oranges in Montana under laboratory conditions. It's meaningless in the wild. No attempt to determine the real risks has been performed. The risk isn't zero, but it's darn close-essentially if other mitigation measures such as mandatory brucellosis vaccination for livestock and other measures were implemented.

Fourth, elk and other wildlife also carry the disease. And if brucellosis transmission were really as much a threat as the livestock agencies would have us believe, the target of control efforts should be elk, not bison. There are far more elk in the Ecosystem than bison. Even if a lower proportion of elk carried the disease, their greater numbers and distribution poses a far greater potential threat. Yet the livestock agency ignores elk. Why? I think because ranchers do not view elk as great a competitor for forage as bison.

Fifth, snowmobile use and roads in the park has facilitated movement of bison, yet livestock agencies make no effort to restrict snowmobile use. If they were truly concerned about minimizing bison movement, they should be among the staunchest supporters of restrictions on snowmobile travel in the park. But they are silent.

Sixth, mandatory vaccination of all livestock in the region is still not required. A serious attempt to limit brucellosis transmission from wildlife should include such mandatory vaccination as a prerequisite.

Seventh, part of the problem rests with federal and state laws and regulations. For example, APHIS continues to suggest that if brucellosis is discovered among domestic animals, it will have no choice but to yank a state's brucellosis free status. Yet it does have a choice. They have the authority to restrict any quarantine to a much smaller area from a county to even a single herd. State livestock industries need not suffer merely because a single herd or a few herds contract the disease. The agencies don't readily admit this to the public because they want to create a crisis situation to justify their extreme actions.

Eighth, for a fraction of the funds currently expended on the capture and killing of bison, compensation fund could be created to assist ranchers whose livestock may contract the disease from wildlife to pay for their extra expenses incurred by quarantine. Better yet, buying out of ranches in or near public lands where bison roam-such as the Church Universal Triumphant ranch near Gardiner, Montana and a few other strategically located ranches would go a long ways towards removing any threat of livestock-bison contact.

When you consider all of these facts together, the current slaughter of bison is unnecessary and unjustified. It's time to question the cowboy mentality of brute force as a solution to any problem or conflict. ###

George Wuerthner, co-editor of "Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West," is a Western Watersheds Project advisory board member who lives in Richmond, Vermont.
* Last Words
"It seems there is no room on this earth for the Buffalo, Wolf, Bear, Coyote or anything else. I cry when I hear of the death of these wild ones. We are all Related, Man and the Wild ones. What kind of people kill their own relatives?

Can you imagine a world with out Wildlife? I would ask Grandfather to take me home because I just couldn't live here without them. The Buffalo did not have this brucellosis when the people from across the big waters came. It was brought here by the cattle. The Native Peoples here had none of these diseases that these people brought over here. All of this was brought here from across the big waters. This land, air and waters were clean. So now all of a sudden its the Buffalo and all the Wild ones that are the Enemy. Strange huh? I read an article about Mad Cow Disease. Did you know it is caused by cattlemen feeding the corpses of dead animals back to the cattle so they fatten and grow faster. These same cattle are pumped up with hormones and antibiotics so they grow faster. Too bad cattle are not born full size ready to slaughter. Then the greedy cattle men would sneak around looking for some other reason to kill the buffalo. You see they cant spare one blade of grass. They need every last blade. The State of Montana is soaked with blood because of cattle and gold.

I want you all to know within a week or so I will be going to the Sacred Circle for Prayer. I will take up my Pipe and send my prayers to Wakan Tanka for all of you and the Buffalo. In closing I want you all to know because of the courage and kindness you are all showing I consider all of you as my Brothers and Sisters. Please keep up you good work and know my prayers are with you all. Pelamaya."
~ Richard Red Hawk

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